Earlier this week, Walsall appointed Jamie Fullarton as the new Technical Director (Director of Football), to oversee all of the footballing side of the club. He has also joined the Board of Directors, and takes on a big job at the club. So what does the appointment of Jamie mean for Walsall, and the direction the club will be heading.
Youth’s the way!
Jamie Fullarton’s background is in finding, recruiting and nurturing young talent from the UK and Europe. His most recent role was at Crystal Palace as ‘Head of Emerging Talent’. In this role, he was responsible for finding players in the domestic leagues, and Europe, between the ages 17-22, and informing the Sporting Director of potential candidates. Prior to this, his most successful roles have all come in working with young talent. He has had spells coaching U-23’s at Crystal Palace, Bolton, and Nottingham Forest and has worked with some players that have gone on to play regular Premier League football.
Not only has he got a good reputation for young talent in the UK, he also has an academy in Spain, which takes children of all nationalities, and coaches them through to 19. The academy has links to teams throughout the UK, which is a link that could be utilised by Walsall.
Fullarton’s experience, reputation, and eye for talent, fits into the ‘Walsall way’, of developing players. Someone of Fullarton’s skillset is exactly the type of person that is needed for Walsall. The club have a good reputation for taking raw players, and bringing out the best in them, like Zak Jules, Elijah Adebayo, and Emmanuel Osadebe, who were already talented, but needed work to make them consistent first teamers. Fullarton will be able to find more diamonds in the rough like these, and it will be up to Dutton to improve them.
Miguel Llera has worked wonders in the youth setup, and with Fullarton helping to shape the club, and bringing in the best young talent too, it seems a great fit for the future of the club.
Fullarton has contacts and networks far beyond what Walsall usually operate in. His work with Crystal Palace spanned across leagues all over Europe. One thing that fans wanted with the appointment, was a person with a contact book, and Jamie certainly has that.
How does he fit the brief?
The search for a Director of Football was public. With that, came the roles that the successful candidate would be responsible for. One of the big roles, was to train and mentor the Head Coach. On paper, Fullarton doesn’t have a CV that would make him the ideal person for mentoring a Head Coach. He has had a less than successful career in management, which has seen him have a short spell at Notts County, and nearly a year and a half at Halifax, where he achieved a mid table finish.
However, his credentials in coaching, scouting and developing players speaks for itself, and that experience is something that can be passed on to Dutton. Mentoring the Head Coach is not just about the management side, it is about how to work with the players, and bring out their best qualities. If Fullarton can impart wisdom and improve Dutton as a coach, then that surely is not a bad thing.
Jamie will be responsible for implementing a coaching programme across the first team and academies, and implementing a scouting and recruitment department. When you consider these are two of the biggest ways to shape the club, you have to feel that Pomlett has got the right man. As has been mentioned, Fullarton has an impressive background in both the coaching and scouting side of the game, and if he can effectively get his way of working at Walsall, then the clubs future will look a lot brighter.
The final big part of Jamie’s job, is developing a football philosophy. It would appear that the board want to focus on youth, as is seen in the appointment, and given the players that are coming through the academy, is a wise decision. Since taking over as Head Coach, this is something that Brian Dutton has been proactive about, giving debuts to Sam Perry, and Tom Leak, both of which have impressed. Leigh Pomlett clearly likes this way of working, and it is a big draw to keeping Dutton in charge.
What needs to happen next?
Jamie has a few games left this season to settle in, and learn about the players at the club at all the various levels. The club have already started negotiating new deals, however many fans are still expecting a busy summer in WS1. Fullarton will begin liaising with Dutton about who he wants to retain, and which areas of the side will need strengthening. With the summer quickly approaching, it will be very high on the priority list. With this, will be the early shoots of the scouting and recruitment network that is being implemented.
The recruitment will also be targeted. The players will be brought in to fit a system and style that the manager, and DoF want to be the style at the club. It will be the first big test of how the partnership between Head Coach, and DoF will work, and it will be something both are judged for.
Fullarton is an experienced coach, and although he will be letting Dutton get on with coaching, it would be good to see an addition or two behind the scenes to provide Dutton with that help. With only Sadler, Taylor and Bradley, the backroom is thin on the ground. Jamie needs to be the Technical Director, and mentor, not the person on the training ground helping out.There are still lots of unknowns about the role, and just how it will work, but it is an appointment that has been greeted with much positivity and excitement. Jamie will receive the full backing of the Saddlers faithful, and it won’t be long until they get to see what type of player he can get in for the club.